Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Nothing To Gloat About

About a year ago, I posted about the overall lack of concern in the Charedi community for Gilad Shalit, compared to the tremendous concern for the yeshivah boys in Japan (and for Sholom Rubashkin). One charedi Rav told me that it was understandable, since Shalit is not part of their community, and people naturally feel much closer to those from their own community. But last week, I was amazed when I saw the editorial in Mishpachah magazine, which triumphantly claimed that no gentile could understand the tremendous achdus of the Jewish People in their concern for Shalit, who have all been praying for him for years! It proceeded, displaying incredibly poor taste, to express pity for the Shalit family, who have "a kind of disability" in not knowing the joy of being religious and being able to thank Hashem for Gilad's release.

A friend of mine wrote the following letter to Mishpachah, with some penetrating insights and stark facts from his own community; I am not confident of its chances of being printed, so I am presenting it here:

The Editor
Mishpacha
5809 16th Avenue
Brooklyn
NY11204

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Dear Sir,

Re: “They didn’t feel the Divine caress” by Rabbi Moshe Grylak

Your magazine, on the whole, is to be praised for dealing with interesting and sometimes challenging issues which, hitherto, have been pushed under the carpet or ignored by our Community. This is a valuable service which in many areas is reaping rich rewards.

However, you have seriously let yourselves and your readers down by publishing the “Point of View” column regarding the Shalit family’s response to the release of Gilad Shalit.

Firstly, let’s debunk the myth of Achdus which Rabbi Grylak postulates.

The Charedi community didn’t give a hoot about Gilad Shalit. This was sadly reflected in my own community of Manchester, UK, a community which includes approximately 10,000 Charedi Jews. Over the five and a half long years of Gilad Shalit’s captivity there have been several rallies and meetings to show the outside world, the Government of Israel, and indeed the Shalit family that the Jews of Manchester shared the pain, cared about Gilad and yearned for his release. Where were the Charedi population of Manchester? Absent. Not a minyan of Charedim attended these rallies and meetings.

Contrast that with the turnout for a similar meeting to raise money and support for “Our boys in Japan.” There were over a thousand Charedi men jammed into the hall, with hundreds more outside, clamoring to hear stirring words about the importance of Pidyon Shevuyim

In various Orthodox publications (including your own) there have been numerous adverts with the leading Rabbonim urging us to daven for the Yeshiva Bochurim in Japan - and quite rightly so - we should all daven for them, they are our brothers. But where were the adverts from the same Rabbonim urging us to daven for Gilad ben Aviva - who is also our brother? They were absent.

When the gatherings took place to say Tehillim for the boys, would it not have been appropriate to add Gilad’s name? No, it wasn’t added, because he is not “one of us”.

So please, Rabbi Grylak, don’t patronize your readers with platitudes about the “Achdus of Am Yisrael, described by the Torah commentators with the analogy, ‘when one part is hurt, the whole body feels it’.” That, I’m afraid applies only when the “part” that is hurt is from one particular section of the body.

And the reason that this lamentable lack of display of care about Gilad Shalit existed in the Charedi Community is due to the very same elitism which Rabbi Grylak eschews in his column. He highlights what he calls the family’s “lack of Emunah. They lack belief in the Creator; they lack belief that when a Jew suffers the Shechina suffers as well”. True, he condescendingly states, “It’s not their fault”. Nevertheless, this attitude of “Nebach, the poor Chilonim, they don’t know any better” merely adds to the feelings and display of elitism and disdain for anyone not in their “club”.

How dare Rabbi Grylak criticize Gilad Shalit’s reaction on his release! Gilad Shalit, in common with thousands of other young men, put his life on the line to protect the Holy Land so that the rest of us can go about our daily lives in relative security. That was his Avodas Hashem, every bit as important as ours and Rabbi Grylak’s.

Hashem is not one dimensional, He appreciates every type of mesiras nefesh for Am Yisroel - not just the Charedi version. Sgt. Shalit was moser nefesh, spending 5 1/2 years in, no doubt, horrible conditions for his Avodah. How does Rabbi Grylak know what is in the heart of that young man or his family? How does he know what thanks to the Divine Being is in his mind and heart? In addition, the fact that Noam Shalit went to ask for Brochos from the Gedolim, in itself demonstrates that deep inside him stirs a recognition of the Borei Olam.

The Mishna in Avos (Perek 2 Mishna 5) tells us clearly, “do not judge your fellow until you are in his place”. Chas Veshalom that Rabbi Grylak or any other person should be in Gilad’s place!

No, we are not in a position to criticize his or his family’s reaction - only to salute his and their courage and to thank the Ribbono Shel Olam and his shlichim for his safe return.

Yours faithfully,

Dr. Jonathan Lieberman
Manchester, UK

59 comments:

  1. In addition to the lack of unity displayed by the haredi community regarding Gilad Shalit the hiloni and leftist communities continue to do nothing regarding Jonathan Pollard. (Though I can't say that the haredi world is doing much better on that count.)

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    1. It seems like only a couple million care, sure that SOUNDS like a lot but there are about like 2-3 billion people with computers, 300 million people live in America, there are 7 million people in Israel, and there are about 12 million Jews, why only TWO million-and probably not even that!

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  2. How did Grylak criticize Schalit's reaction to his release?

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  3. He lamented that Schalit did not praise Hashem.

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  4. In a Chareidi shul in which I daven periodically, the Rav did, eventually, acknowledge the plight of Gilad Schalit. It took about three years of challenges on the part of certain mispallelim, one in particular (who is not Chareidi). I think this is a perfect example of what the letter is talking about.

    It's true that Chareidim, even many who are part of the establishment (as this Rav is), could eventually come to feel the pain of Schalit's situation. But it didn't come naturally, and it had to be cultivated.

    In the shuls and yeshivas were there were no such people who wouldn't stop talking about Gilad Schalit, did they reach the realization that it took the aforementioned rabbi at least 3 years?

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  5. If you think the article in Mishpacha was offensive you should see what was happening on Matzav.com and in the comments there:

    Matzav.com

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  6. E. Fink- the link works. Truly sad, but we told you that they are leftists! And no I don't feel much for them.
    Mr. Shalit (His father) should have though about the country first and the Jewish people in general. A person in uniform is expected to make some sacrifice and by the way the fact that they made all those protests actually prolonged Shalits stay in confinement.

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  7. "he hiloni and leftist communities continue to do nothing regarding Jonathan Pollard. "

    Pollard was a traitor to his country; Shalit served his. Pollard earned his life sentence, and for some reason has not even bothered to apply for parole even though he has been eligible for almost 16 years. Shalit had not parole options. Pollard receives regular visitors; Shalit didn't get any. To even mention Pollard in the same sentence as Shalit is a chilul HaShem.

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  8. Let's not get sidetracked here about Pollard.

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  9. Rav Fink, thanks for the link and the hilarious (and sad) comments. To say he is mechallel shabbos must make some people feel better about themselves, even though i don't think swimming on a beach today is anything more than miderabanan or perhaps even just breach of a minhag, as the rabbinic restriction (due to reede-based floatation devices) would be inapplicable to such shallow swimming water.
    Noone seemed to mention another distinction that is not a nice thing to point out, which is thta Shalit was fully innocent in his abduction, while the charedi captives were taken due to a breach of law (whether or not their breaches deserved their sentence is another story).

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  10. one excuse to note that i could understand from the charedi community (which is generally more hawkish about palestinians etc.) is that they didn't publicly push for shalit for fear of a prisoner swap. We may not agree on whether the prisoner swap was worth it, but that may be an important reason why they didn't push for Shalit like they do for the japan boys or rubashkin. I know at least one charedi that used to mutter about shalit's father putting pressure on the govt unfairly.

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  11. Once again: don't try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig.

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  12. I must say, it was really depressing to read the comments on matzav. I wonder how we ever succeeded in being Chozer Bitshuva people, if this is our attitude towards other Jews. That matzav article really killed my day.

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  13. While on one hand I find the lack of concern for Shalit in certain charedi circles disturbing, I think this letter doesn't do much service to the cause.

    Shalits compulsory military service was "his Avodas Hashem"? This is certainly a religious belief that I don't find compatible with Torah Judaism in any of it's traditional incarnations.

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  14. one excuse to note that i could understand from the charedi community (which is generally more hawkish about palestinians etc.) is that they didn't publicly push for shalit for fear of a prisoner swap.

    That's not the point. They could still have davvened for him!

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  15. If Shalit ever reads matzav.com, it is guaranteed that he will never want to become frum!

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  16. "They could still have davvened for him!"

    Perhaps more davening would have resulted in a less unfavorable prisoner swap?

    We do believe that davening can work, right?

    Right???

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  17. "Shalits compulsory military service was "his Avodas Hashem"? This is certainly a religious belief that I don't find compatible with Torah Judaism in any of it's traditional incarnations."

    Umm why not?
    Is "Milchemet Mitzva" a concept you find too foreign? Was Moshe forcing the Jews of the desert to fight Sichon too nontraditional?

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  18. The powerful leter you posted is weakened somewhat by noting that Mr. Shalit went to GEDOILIM for a blessing. That line appears, perhaps inadvertently, to concede that such an act carries some weight in evaluating Grylak's article. The truth is, whether he went to GEDOILIM or not is immaterial, for all the reasons the letter-writer stated in the first part.

    It is also inwise to compare the mesiras nefesh of Gilad Shalit to charedim. Both do/did it involuntarily, but my goodness, you cannot compare captivity to the freedom enjoyed by charedim. It's again, an inadvertent "patch in ponim" to Shalit. Just because one is writing to a charedi magazine does not mean one must descend to their own views.

    Finally, Millhouse, the shameful Charedi apathy to Shalit cannot be attributed to concerns about rewarding arabs for terrorism. When one of the charedi GEDOILIM was on a hijacked plane a few decades ago, no such concerns were to be found.

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  19. "Was Moshe forcing the Jews of the desert to fight Sichon too nontraditional?"

    Any atheist forced to fight Sichon did not preform any mitzvah.

    BTW Do you believe that an atheist stripper from Tel Aviv is preforming "Avodas Hashem" by paying taxes?

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  20. Gilad Shalit was obviously not consciously serving God.

    On the other hand, he was doing a tremendous mitzvah of protecting the Jewish People at great personal risk.

    Charedim should demonstrate great respect for such a person rather than looking down on him.

    (Your stripper parable was very strange. A stripper is not helping the Jewish People by being a stripper. But paying taxes, or giving charity, is helping the Jewish People.)

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  21. "Your stripper parable was very strange."

    My point is to show that taxes can be paid from morally questionable income and still be an important contribution to the society.

    My whole point was to show that helping the Jewish People doesn't automatically mean Avodas Hashem. I see this as the reversed Charedi argument. Contrast:"we are good citizens because we learn Torah/preform mitzvos" and "we are preforming Avodas Hashem because we help others/ are nice people / serve the public."

    Torah and civic obligations are not interchangeable. Learning in Kollel should not exempt one from his civic obligations and being a good citizen will not exempt one from his religious obligations.

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  22. "Any atheist forced to fight Sichon did not preform any mitzvah."

    Should a Jewish atheist be shomer Shabat?

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  23. "Should a Jewish atheist be shomer Shabat?"

    3 issues:

    1. Is there any difference if mitzvos are preformed under duress or voluntarily?

    2. Is there a difference between mitzvos asei and lo'taasei?

    3. Is it proper to even use the terms "Mitzvos Hasham" if the one preforming the act does not believe there is a Metzaveh (Commander)?

    But to answer your question: an atheist who abstains from melacha on shabbos because he fears human retribution deserves in my opinion not much more credit than someone who doesn't sin because he is in coma.

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  24. OK, so he wasn't consciously serving God. The letter writer's main point was that he was moser nefesh to do a very important service for the Jewish People (otherwise known as a tremendous mitzvah), which may well be more important than the avodas Hashem of Rabbi Grylak.

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  25. Milhouse Trabajo

    "one excuse to note that i could understand from the charedi community (which is generally more hawkish about palestinians etc.) is that they didn't publicly push for shalit for fear of a prisoner swap. We may not agree on whether the prisoner swap was worth it, but that may be an important reason why they didn't push for Shalit like they do for the japan boys or rubashkin. I know at least one charedi that used to mutter about shalit's father putting pressure on the govt unfairly."

    That has nothing to do with saying tehillim, or even asifos, which - let's face it - have as much to do with rallying the troops toward a particular correct opinion as to actually helping the prisoners in Japan in a concrete way.

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  26. "The letter writer's main point was that he was moser nefesh to do a very important service for the Jewish People"

    And I agree 100% with that. It was the "Avodas Hashem" line which I believe will make many readers miss the real point of the letter.

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  27. Charlie Hall defended me well (thanks), but i agree that when it comes down to it the argument isn't so convincing, asif the captive in hamas hands happened to be an obvious shomer torah/mitzvos (black hat/streimel) there would probably have been more prayer for him, regardless of terrorist issues. i was just noting a possible chiluk to be dan lekaf zechus to those charedim who aren't biased by different levels of religious observance. R' Natan, Love the site btw.

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  28. It is this lack of achdus that makes me (sadly) convinced that we will be waiting quite a while for moshiach.

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  29. The biggest Charedi Gedolim gave public support for Shalit. Many Orthodox Jews did pray for him publicly and privately. Charedim usually do not join in public demonstrations with other groups. Agree or not, that should not be taken as a lack of achdus with Gilad and the Shalit family.

    Noam Shalit did seem to get comfort and value the support of the Charedim. So I am not sure your entire assumptions is correct.

    That being said, I also feel that the critique of Shalit was somewhat tasteless. But I don't deny that I did feel a twinge of sadness that they didn't mention G-d or prayer. Seeing a picture of Noam with a big black Yarmulka just a few days earlier with RO Yosef, I almost expected him to acknowledge G-d or the blessings and prayers of the Jewish people. But we are in no place to judge.

    But I really do believe their was more support than you think.

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  30. I agree that Gilad Shalit was not in the forefront of the minds of the chareidi world as much as it should have been. But I also want to point out that this does not apply to all chareidim -- I can't speak for england, but I can tell you that I know a number of american chareidim (living in the US and Israel) who davened for gilat shalit. I have also been in several chareidi shuls where his name was mentioned during davening on Shabbat.

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  31. Is Rabbi Ovadia Yossef not Haredi? He seemed pretty involved with the process. Both emotionally, as he met with Noam Shalit a lot of times. And by actually taking a view on the issue. Even had he decided against the exchange, at least he got involved.
    But Dr Lieberman is correct. For the most part, Haredi Judaism ignores issues that do not directly involve Haredim. Their Poskim and Rabbis do not carry the "ol" of the tzibbur. Which makes me suspect their psakim that do apply to the non-Haredi tzibbur, such as Heter Mechira, and Army conversions etc. It is easy to decide that the conversions were illegitimate if one never met one, and there is almost no likelihood of ones granddaughter dating one. It is easy to prohibit Heter Mechira if one is not a farmer and never met one.

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  32. "BTW Do you believe that an atheist stripper from Tel Aviv is preforming "Avodas Hashem" by paying taxes? "

    Do you believe the Spinker rebbe is performng "avodas hashem" when he davens?

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  33. "But to answer your question: an atheist who abstains from melacha on shabbos because he fears human retribution deserves in my opinion not much more credit than someone who doesn't sin because he is in coma."

    How about a charedi who abstains from melacha on Shabbos because he's afraid of his neighbors' opinion and his childrens' shiduchim and, when inspired, the size of his house in the next world versus an "atheist" who does good because he believes in doing good.

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  34. BIG LONG STANDING OVATION FOR DR. JONATHAN LIEBERMAN FOR WRITING AND SENDING THIS LETTER!! And thanks to Rabbi Slifkin for posting it, standing up for truth, and giving voice and chizuk to those of us who feel like we're living on another planet, related to people we're not relating to on some major issues.

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  35. DF - Your criticism of the letter (after he sent it) may be correct, but Dr. Jonathan Lieberman took the time and went through the effort of responding to the Mishpacha editorial by writing and mailing a letter in a timely manner. Did you?

    Criticism of someone else's work is always much easier than going through the effort to create one's own original work.

    No offence. I appreciate most of your comments on this site. I'm just saying...

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  36. "an atheist who abstains from melacha on shabbos because he fears human retribution "


    Shimon,

    I really wasn't thinking of coerced observance. I was more thinking of questions like, should an atheist make kiddush?

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  37. I had found the article shockingly distasteful. I was snapping my fingers and slapping myself in my face wondering whether or not I was dreaming. Hubris? Elitism? Naivety? Stupidity? Couldn't find the words.

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  38. The IDF is not supposed to be only defending Jews or Jewish Israelis. In fact, the IDF is there for the defense of all Israelis no matter what their ethnicity. The IDF is there to uphold treaties, which are international law agreed to by the government. And it is there to defend the citizens and country against enemies both foreign and domestic.

    If the subjects of today's blog are people who are uneasily allied [or not at all allied] with Israel, their reaction would makes sense.

    For instance, there is fellow I know who doesn't even live in the country of Israel. He lives in an area of Yesha that hasn't been annexed. He lives in some "community" in what will probably soon be Palestine. It is entirely wired off from the rest of the world by razor wire. All the husbands who live there are Jewish. It seems, from the way my acquaintance speaks, that all the fellows there are studying Torah and taking money for it. He and his wife are Americans but I don't know about the rest of his chevra. They take a stipend from their yeshiva which comes from the State of Israel. Any person who is a non-Israeli Arab must be accompanied by an Israeli army GI. Given what I've described, one would assume these were very Zionistic people with strong ties to the State of Israel. In fact, they are not.The fellow I knows trys to cultivate a pareve attitude towards the State of Israel and it appears that, in fact, he has a bitter and negative attitude towards the State. I doubt if this young fellow saw Shalit as anything more than an unfortunate grunt [low-level army person] from an army upon which his life currently depends. But soon, treaty obligations will probably require this same army to surrender his community to help form Palestine. And if he refuses to leave, HE will be the enemy. That's the way law and order work. But he believes that he stands outside the common structures of law and order because he's "on a mission from God", so to speak. Treaties and laws are secondary to the halachic and hashkafic dictates of his posekim and mashgichim.

    I think expecting people in the demographic I describe to act as if they have appreciation for those who defend them and pay their stipends is unrealistic. This group feels unusually entitled. But then, they should. According to several other Jews that I have talked with, the State of Israel was created so that these people can spend so many hours learning torah matters. And, on top of that, they think that their torah efforts are what protects the Jews of Israel....though not the myriad of Israelis who are not Jews [most of whom they think of negatively].

    Gary Goldwater

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  39. they didn't publicly push for shalit for fear of a prisoner swap. We may not agree on whether the prisoner swap was worth it, but that may be an important reason why they didn't push for Shalit like they do for the japan boys or rubashkin.

    YES! All the rallies, publicity, press, radio etc. were probably effective tools to assuage bad feelings about Gilad's predicament. On a practical level, it seems to me that all the hubub worked against Gilad by upping the ante on the exchange. Maybe - just maybe - he would have been released in half the time at a fraction of the cost if everyone would have just shut up and let the negotiators work quietly behind the scenes?

    Maybe activists such as Arnold Roth did more for Gilad's release than Noam Roth?

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  40. Not relevant. We are talking about how much they cared.

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  41. Charlie Hall,

    "should an atheist make kiddush?"

    That is an excellent question that i believe has many layers.

    First, will he discharge his (or others) Torah obligation of Kiddush? Here my answer is "no". If you KNOW someone is an atheist, he cannot "yotze you" with his kiddush.

    Should he do it anyway for some other reason? This is not so clear. There are positives (chinuch - himself and his family, kavod habriyos situations) and negatives (possible bracha levatalah). Not 100% sure here.

    Please note that not all (or even most) non-observant Jews are atheists.

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  42. Avi,

    "Do you believe the Spinker rebbe is performng "avodas hashem" when he davens?"

    There are about 20 Spinka rebbes but I guess I know what you mean... :-)

    The answer depends 100% on his kavanah. My wild guess would be yes. But it is Hashem who made the rules and keeps the cheshbonos. We just know the rules.

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  43. >I was snapping my fingers and slapping myself in my face wondering whether or not I was dreaming. Hubris? Elitism? Naivety? Stupidity? Couldn't find the words.<

    How about 'par for the course'?

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  44. >...due to the very same elitism which Rabbi Grylak eschews in his column...

    I think Dr. Lieberman is misusing the word eschew. It means "to avoid using; to abstain", and if I understand him correctly, he's lamenting the fact that R' Grylak is indeed demonstrating elitism here; the very opposite of eschewing it.

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  45. I know Rabbi Slifkin asked us not to get sidetracked talking about Pollard, but Charlie Hall said two things about him that are simply false and must be corrected. He wrote: "Pollard was a traitor to his country; ...Pollard earned his life sentence."
    A. A traitor, according to American law, is one who serves the enemy or who gives aid and comfort to the enemy in time of war. Israel is not an enemy of the US and the two countries are not at war. Jonathan did not give aid and comfort to an enemy of the US. Nor was Jonathan ever accused, indicted or convicted of treason.

    B. Pollard earned a sentence; he did not earn a life sentence.

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  46. This letter will not be published in Mishpacha because it is too biting. If you want a letter published you have to sugar coat it with compliments and then get the criticism in subtly.The chareidi world does not take criticism well.
    L. Oberstein

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  47. Oh come on with this about prisoner swaps. You know how many haredim I have spoken with who actually defend the decision? And even more would be backing it (afterall the "rightwing" savior Bibi did it so it has to be good right?) if gedolim had not come out and pointed out the obvious (which apparently is not so obvious to the average Jew unless someone of great stature is pointing it out to them). Well, gedolim except rav ovadia yosef anyway.

    No one thinks that by davening to free shalit that they are davening to release terrorists in order to free him. We don't daven for the suicidal insane things the israeli regime habitually does. We daven for good things like a freed captive or an actual peace.

    Most people got amnesia within months of the exchange with hezbollah when israel sent terrorists and samir kuntar for a bag of body parts. You really think everyday haredim were worrying day to day that terrorists might get released for shalit? Most people yapping about it now are just reacting after the fact. They were not aware and are not aware that a systenic ailment exists in the Israeli psyche and in the israeli governing system. Most have no idea what's going on but sending up a prayer for a captured soldier was just not on the agenda, it has nothing to do with ideas on how to free him.

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  48. Very astute, Student V. You nailed it.

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  49. i read the mishpacha point of view article with great interest, and slowly found myself, as i often do, withdrawing emotionally from the scene. the sense of judgement, pity and superiority expressed, made me feel ashamed and isolated.
    i was happy to read these posts, and the posted response, because i see that i am not alone.
    why must people put everyone else down in order to feel proud and comfortable. i walked on the streets of lower manhattan with my son whom i adore, and i was feeling a sense of great joy at being part of Hashem's great world, when he turns to me and says, "Baruch Hashem, we are frum Jews, we don't live like all these others." I was saddened by his need to assume the whole outer population is so low, and yet, he is a smart, God fearing, torah learning mitzvah observing, eloquent young man. I took a step aside in order to calm myself, but i find myself constantly confronted with the dilemmas inherent in scrupulousness in mitzvah observance combined with a moderate and humane approach to the world.
    why is it that seemingly, those who are fired by the intensity of their Jewish inner life have a warped sense of outlook, while those who sound credible seem to lack fire for the details of halakhic observance? I see it again and again in daily life as i navigate the worlds of haredism, post haredim, and modern orthodoxy and religious zionist groups..
    I pray for the mahiach to come soona nd help us all to see the light.

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  50. I was really turned off by the op-ed piece in Mishpacha. I found it very distasteful to criticize the Shalit's kesher with Hashem. Who knows how many tefillos Gilad or his family said over the past years?

    On a BRIGHTER note: I learned in the Mir and had a chevrusa who was there 35 years and was clearly & staunchly part of the Haredi world. His wife starting praying for Gilad the same week he was kidnapped. I was always a bit embarrassed because I was never as good about it. To this fellow & his wife, it was an obvious thing that should be done.

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  51. Several facts:
    (1) Davening for Shalit did NOT mean davening for the suicidal mass release of terrorists. He might have been freed as a result of a rescue mission. He might have been freed as a result of the gov't pressuring HAMAS. He might have been freed asa result of a "goodwill" gesture by HAMAS. Using the fear of a mass release of terrorists as a reason not to daven for him is a really lame excuse.
    (2) I have never understood the Haredidi excuses for not saying the "misheberach" for the IDF soldiers. The argument that to say it is to negate the importance of those learning in yeshiva is also a lame excuse. This is a totally separate issue from saying the prayer for the state of Israel.
    (3) Why is it hard for some people to understand that human beings are complex beings.?Have you ever heard the expression "there are no atheists in foxholes?" Before the last Gaza war the secular soldiers were lined up to put on tefillin. I find it offensive to say that a secular person gets no "mitzvah credit" for military service simply because he doesn't identify openly as a "religious Jew". Defining people along ideological lines (and religiou is just another ideology in this sense) has brought much suffering to mankind. We have to take humans one at a time and not judge them by external criteria.
    (3)

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  52. I too was so offended by Rabbi Grylak's Point of View - who by the way is the editor-in-chief of the magazine - as were many of my friend. Please allow me to share what I wrote to the inbox at Mishpacha - I hope you post this:
    To Whom It May Concern,
    I am an avid reader of Mishpacha Magazine - and enjoy it very much. As I read the article written by Rabbi Grylak about Gilad Shalit and his release from captivity from our enemy - I was smiling and agreeing about the joy of our nation at the realization that tefilos were answered - as he so eloquently describes the tears we shed as we witnessed Gilad "pale and weak taking those first shuffling steps into his homeland". Additionally, I agreed with the Rabbi of the pain that we felt knowing that thousands of the killers of our brethren were released in exchange. However, what left me bewildered and shocked was the manner in which this author judged Gilad Shalit and his family as he describes their assumed lack of faith in Hakadosh Baruch Hu. Regardless of the state of spiritual belief of the family and of the captive - how could anyone publically judge his fellow Jew the way it was done in this article? Among other derogatory and judgmental statements, the Rabbi writes the Shalit's were "bereft of anyone Above to whom to pour out their thanks...their world included no Heaven above them, no G-d to thank...." How does Rabbi Grylak know this? Does this public display of judgment of Jew against Jew serve any purpose? Does it help the crucial middah of "v'ahavta l'rai'acha kemocha"? Do we know the pain and suffering that this young boy and his family suffered for so many years? Would we ever judge a Holocaust survivor? I am so shocked and utterly disappointed that this opinion was printed. If this is what the author believes then so be it - but to exploit this family’s (hypothetical) belief publicly to thousands of your readers left me with a bad ta'am and sad for our people. We are supposed to strive to emulate HaShem - in addition we are instructed to bring Jews closer to His mitzvos and Torah. The last half of this point of view most likely did the opposite in the eyes of many Jews - and if it didn't then THAT alone is even more distressing. I am sad but not for the reason that saddens Rabbi Grylak, as he describes what the Shalit’s are lacking, "they don't even know what they're missing. And that is the saddest part of all". I look at this article as a lesson of how NOT to treat our fellow Jew.
    Aviva Skurowitz
    Hollywood, Florida

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  53. I was so happy to see this blog because many of my friends including myself were outraged by the View Point by the editor in chief of Mishpacha Magazine, Rabbi Grylak. I sent this letter to the editor to inbox@mishpacha.com. I encourage others to do the same. I wonder though if any of these will be published! Thanks!
    To Whom It May Concern,
    I am an avid reader of Mishpacha Magazine - and enjoy it very much. As I read the article written by Rabbi Grylak about Gilad Shalit and his release from captivity from our enemy - I was smiling and agreeing about the joy of our nation at the realization that tefilos were answered - as he so eloquently describes the tears we shed as we witnessed Gilad "pale and weak taking those first shuffling steps into his homeland". Additionally, I agreed with the Rabbi of the pain that we felt knowing that thousands of the killers of our brethren were released in exchange. However, what left me bewildered and shocked was the manner in which this author judged Gilad Shalit and his family as he describes their assumed lack of faith in Hakadosh Baruch Hu. Regardless of the state of spiritual belief of the family and of the captive - how could anyone publically judge his fellow Jew the way it was done in this article? Among other derogatory and judgmental statements, the Rabbi writes the Shalit's were "bereft of anyone Above to whom to pour out their thanks...their world included no Heaven above them, no G-d to thank...." How does Rabbi Grylak know this? Does this public display of judgment of Jew against Jew serve any purpose? Does it help the crucial middah of "v'ahavta l'rai'acha kemocha"? Do we know the pain and suffering that this young boy and his family suffered for so many years? Would we ever judge a Holocaust survivor? I am so shocked and utterly disappointed that this opinion was printed. If this is what the author believes then so be it - but to exploit this family’s (hypothetical) belief publicly to thousands of your readers left me with a bad ta'am and sad for our people. We are supposed to strive to emulate HaShem - in addition we are instructed to bring Jews closer to His mitzvos and Torah. The last half of this point of view most likely did the opposite in the eyes of many Jews - and if it didn't then THAT alone is even more distressing. I am sad but not for the reason that saddens Rabbi Grylak, as he describes what the Shalit’s are lacking, "they don't even know what they're missing. And that is the saddest part of all". I look at this article as a lesson of how NOT to treat our fellow Jew.
    Aviva Skurowitz
    Hollywood, Florida

    ReplyDelete
  54. Mom

    You quote Rabbi Grylak's opinion that the family were "bereft of anyone Above to whom to pour out their thanks...their world included no Heaven above them, no G-d to thank...." and ask "How does Rabbi Grylak know this?"

    The answer is simple. Mr Shalit Snr never disguised that fact. As a frequent Haredi visitor to the encampment on Azza St I had the opportunity and privilege of speaking to him. He told me quite unequivocally that in his opinion -"praying does not help".

    The right to criticise the family's beliefs is a separate issue.

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  55. First to the creator of this blog - I think to Natan Slifkin - I am sorry that my post from yesterday was sent in twice - my laptop doesn't alway function and I wasn't sure if it went through.

    To Sidney Michol - it's amazing that you were able to visit Mr. Shalit in his encampment on Azza Street - kol hakavod to you! How did you react when Mr. Shalit said prayer doesn't help? Did you decide to publically bash the Shalit family? I still stand by MY point of view that regardless of what Mr. Shalit's beliefs are - it should not have been the focus of the Rabbi Grylak's "point of view". I'm saddened by the fact that as many who were sickened by the mishpacha article there are so many others who stand by the article and seem to agree with it. Not only does Rabbi Grylak bash the Shalit family - look what the Rabbi created and caused! He caused lashon hara beaing spoken about him and increase lashon hara by others speaking about the Shalits! What purpose was it? It was worthless!

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  56. I would like to put it out there that as of this past week - which is about 3-4 weeks after the article: “They didn’t feel the Divine caress” by Rabbi Moshe Grylak - not one letter to the editor was printed in mishpacha magazine in response to Rabbi Grylak. Did they just drop the ball and hope no one would notice?

    Aviva Skurowitz

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  57. I guess Rabbi Grylack chose to respond to the letters to the editor with another "point of view" - here is my response to that.

    To Whom It May Concern,
    I am one of your readers who wrote a "critical response" letter to the editor about three weeks ago after reading Rabbi Grylack's Point of View about Gilad Shalit and his family called, "They Didn’t Feel the Divine Caress" - http://www.mishpacha.com/Browse/Article/1511/They-Didnt-Feel-the-Divine-Caress (issue 381). Today I read the response by the editor in chief of Mishpacha magazine, Rabbi Moshe Grylak, entitled "Robbed Of Their Greatest Gift", http://www.mishpacha.com/Browse/Article/1597/Robbed-Of-Their-Greatest-Gift.
    I am disappointed by this response and by your publication. To start, you chose not to print any of the letters to the editor regarding Rabbi Grylak's original article in Mishpacha - where he questioned and judged the belief in HaShem that the Shalit's had. Instead, you chose to ignore the letters both critical and supportive and as Rabbi Grylak says, "A majority of those who responded said that their feeling were like mine: pain and anguish at the spiritual crippling of an entire generation, rendering them unable to perceive and acknowledge the Creator’s great goodness to them". If in fact it was a majority - why didn't you print those supportive letters - thereby giving credence to the Rabbi's article?
    Rabbi Grylak's most recent Point of View entitled "Robbed of Their Greatest Gift" (a slanted title to start) was seen by many as the Rabbi defending himself. He basically repeated his original view point and sprinkled it with some added offensive and derogatory points which added more disgrace and more shame - adding more of what upset many people in the first place - i.e, loshon hora, and judging others who have suffered. Would this Rabbi write an article judging and questioning Holocaust survivors who were captured and went into the camps frum and/or as non believers and survived not believing in the One Above - and "chalila" upon their release did not say"Baruch HaShem"? I would also like to know if the rebbetzin knows that the Rabbi quoted her as being the impetus to him writing this article as the Rabbi states, "I was given confirmation about the following piece of information: It causes me much pain to say this, but the Shalit family refused, simply refused, the request of an important rebbetzin who is personally acquainted with them, that they express thanks to HaKadosh Baruch Hu for their son’s rescue. She stated that they adamantly refused even to say the words, “Baruch Hashem.” If the rebbetzin knows that she was quoted then this adds even more discontent.
    The Rabbi seems to have some "inside information" to the belief of the Shalit family - and therefore he felt THAT is a reason to cause so much lashon hara to be spoken about HIMSELF, about k'lal yisroel and about the Shalit family. All I feel is humiliation. We should be taught to "not judge Judaism by some Jews" When we have bitachon in HaShem and His love of ALL of his people - then we should not judge Torah and Judaism by those who dress the part but do not act the part. We should feel bad for Rabbi Grylack and his attitude and his defensive outlook on what HaShem wants from us. In reality, HaShem wants us to love our fellow Jew regardless of whether it is their fault or not - regardless if we are in a generation of growth and/or decline. As it says in the Haftora of Parashas Balak, from Michah - 5:6 - 6:8, "Higid l'cha adam, mah tov u'mah HaShem doresh me'mecha? Ki im asos mishpat v'ahavas chesed v'hatznay'ah leches im Elokecha" - "He [HaShem] has told you, Oh man, what is good, and what HaShem seeks from you? Only the performance of justice, the love of kindness, and walking humbly with your God".
    Aviva Skurowitz
    Florida

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